Comment by fractallambda on Beyond the Reach of God · 2012-06-14T09:50:12.235Z · LW · GW

But in sober historical fact, this is an unreasonable belief; I chose the example of World War II because from my reading, it seems that events were mostly driven by Hitler's personality, often in defiance of his generals and advisors.


Besides the contemporary accounts of the inevitability of war, there's also, computer modelling of state relations using pre-war evidence (In fact, the modelling even generates the split for the cold war, before the start of WWII).

For the record, Heinrich Heine also said in 1821: "Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen." (That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.)

Besides that, your entire post could mostly be summarised as The universe doesn't care.


No, really? I never knew.


As for saying that 'God wouldn't allow it', It's a ridiculous argument that anthropomorphises an imaginary creation, that was invoked in the first place to reassure people living in a world that never made sense. Of course god wouldn't allow it! He wouldn't allow it by definition. The 'Problem of Evil' is the very reason god exists in human minds in the first place! To use it to attack religion is as unsatisfactory as a rebuttal can get.

Comment by fractallambda on The AI in a box boxes you · 2012-06-13T16:51:38.619Z · LW · GW

When I first watched that part where he convinces a fellow prisoner to commit suicide just by talking to them, I thought to myself, "Let's see him do it over a text-only IRC channel."

...I'm not a psychopath, I'm just very competitive.

You seem to imply that this is hard.

As if people had not been convinced to kill themselves over little else than a pretty color poster and screwed up sense of nationalism. Getting people to kill themselves or others is ludicrously easy.

We call it 'recruitment'.

Doing it on a more personal and immediate level just takes a better knowledge of the techniques and skill at applying them.

It's not like Derren Brown ever influenced someone to kill another person in a crowded theatre.

Oh, wait, he did.

It's not like someone could be convinced to extinguish 100000 human lives in an instant.

Oh, wait, we did. (Everyone involved in the bombing of Hiroshima)

If you're not naturally gifted, you would simply do your homework. Persuasion and influence are sciences now.

If you do it right, not only can you convince an unsuspecting mind to let you out of the box, you can make them feel good about it too. Just find the internal forces in the GK's mind that support the idea of letting the AI out, and reinforce those, find the forces that oppose the idea and diminish them. You'll hit the threshold eventually. 2 hours seems a bit short for my liking, and speaks to Eliezer's persuasive abilities, but with enough time and motivation, it's certainly doable.

You'll need to understand the person at the other end of the IRC channel well, as reinforcing the wrong factor will be counter-productive.

The best metaphor would be that the AI plants the idea of release in the GK's mind, and nurtures it over the course of the conversation, all the while weakening the forces that hold it back. Against someone who hasn't been exposed to this kind of persuasion, success is almost inevitable.

There are some gross tricks one can use to be persuasive and induce the right state of mind:

  • Controlling the shape of the words you use (by capitalisation) to draw attention to words related to freedom and release.
  • Using capitalisation of words to spell out a word with the capitals, which the subconscious will receive even if the conscious mind does not.
  • Controlling the meter of the sentences, to induce a more receptive state
  • Using clusters of words with the right connotation to implant the idea of a related word surreptitiously
  • Using basic psychological effects like reciprocation, mutual disclosure for rapport building, etc...

Note that the first four techniques are what I would call "side channel implantation" in that they get information into the target's mind besides the semantic meaning of the text. These alone are sufficient to influence someone. If they're coupled with an emotional, philosophical and intellectual assault, the effect is devastating.

The only thing required for this kind of attack on a fellow human is the abdication of one's ethics and complete ruthlessness. If you're framing it as a game on the internet, even those requirements are unnecessary.

Comment by fractallambda on Shut up and do the impossible! · 2012-06-13T16:14:41.141Z · LW · GW

"Problems cannot be solved by the same thinking that created them." Einstein had you covered.